Big Brown Water and a Split River

June 5th, 2019 - 

The big brown water has arrived! Near town the water is high and resembles chocolate milk, and we expect it to get higher and dirtier as the days go on. Up river the West Fork is pumping muddy meltwater that can be seen from Highway 287 down the west bank, as usual this time of year. No worries, the fish do not stop eating under these conditions.

Nymphing is the name of the game in the dirty water, there will not be much play on top. Switch to bigger bugs like a #4 or #6 Black Pat's Rubber Legs, and add some tungsten shot to get them down quick in the faster flows. San Juan Worms in Red, Wine, or Hot Pink, Red Copper Johns, #8 Mega Prince, and other oversized Bead Head Prince and Hare's Ear nymph variations will pull fish.

The streamer game is also afoot. Stick to darker colors like black and purple. Dead-drifting smaller streamers under an indicator with a trailing nymph close makes for an easy meal for the larger predators. Trevor Sculpins, Black Sculpzilla, Delekta's Screamer, Kar's Space Invader, Mini Loop Sculpins, Big Gulp Sculpins, El Sculpito, and just about any black woolly bugger will produce fish. The articulated stuff will also pay dividends if you have a little patience and stick with it. Sex Dungeon, Boogeyman, Double Screamer, Whammy Tomahawk, Butt Monkey, Mini Flatliner, and Barely Legal are the usual suspects. It will not always be evident where the buckets are with the higher water, so when fishing from a boat the bank makes a great target to aim at. A fast 7wt with sink tip line can help get them down faster. Do your best to hit the pockets and not give up any water. In other words, paint the bank.

Please note that with the river above 2400 CFS you should not launch a boat at Lyon's Bridge or Windy because of the low clearance at the Wolf Creek bridge.

Stay safe and have fun, don't let the dirty water stop you.

Check out the latest Madison River Fishing Report here.